Author Topic: Releasing a Commercial ASCII Roguelike, a Post-Mortem [Cogmind]  (Read 1330 times)

Kyzrati

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Last month I released my first commercial game, Cogmind, and although it was only a soft alpha launch it did pretty well despite being a traditional roguelike designed for ASCII.

Other Temple devs might be interested in learning about the details and decisions behind the release process, so I thought I'd link the post mortem here: http://www.gridsagegames.com/blog/2015/06/releasing-commercial-ascii-roguelike-post-mortem/

It includes discussions of marketing, timing, pricing, sales data, and more.

The game isn't complete yet, nor has it recovered the investment and entered profit territory, but we'll see what happens next year!
Cogmind - Sci-fi Roguelike (devblog) | X@COM - The X-COM RL | REXPaint - ASCII art editor

Krice

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Re: Releasing a Commercial ASCII Roguelike, a Post-Mortem [Cogmind]
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2015, 06:09:50 AM »
TLDR! But I can say if you want to release a commercial roguelike nothing wrong with that. Because no one is forcing to buy it and these days you can find odd markets in gaming by releasing games like Flappy Bird or something that would have never sold back when games were not a mainstream hobby.

Holsety

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Re: Releasing a Commercial ASCII Roguelike, a Post-Mortem [Cogmind]
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2015, 07:59:06 AM »
Those launch sales graphs... that x-axis annoys me so much  ;D
(You should be able to merge them into one graph, or one for sales+views and another for sales+sessions. Might be more informative that way.)

Great write-up! That was very interesting to read. I am looking forward to finding out whether you'll get a boost in sales once you release 1.0! Also, congratulations!
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Kyzrati

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Re: Releasing a Commercial ASCII Roguelike, a Post-Mortem [Cogmind]
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2015, 08:33:50 AM »
Thanks Holsety :D

Those launch sales graphs... that x-axis annoys me so much  ;D
(You should be able to merge them into one graph, or one for sales+views and another for sales+sessions. Might be more informative that way.)
I hate that graph myself ;D. Sadly the company I'm working with only provides one graph--that's it :o. They do provide all sales data for download, but it's not everything I'd like to have and it's difficult to reorganize from the format they provide it in. My spreadsheet-fu is lacking. Even just getting a simple graph of orders/day took me like an hour and tons of spreadsheet manipulation :/. I ended up not using that graph because revenue seemed more interesting and direct, but here it is if you'd like to see it.

As for the parallel graphs, each is coming from a different source, one of which I have no access to, and the other might be difficult to extract. So it would be quite a production just to put together a composite graph. Either way, I'll do a much better job with the data for my future 1.0 post-mortem, and thanks, superimposing them is a good idea if I can figure out a way to do it without spending forever on it ;)

That post will also be more finance-oriented, with a budget breakdown and other angles on the sales.

I am looking forward to finding out whether you'll get a boost in sales once you release 1.0!
Based on audience volume alone I think it's quite possible. The key will be to attract players from outside our little community... I had only 13k visitors, while getting on Steam and GOG, combined with a broader media push, could bring hundreds of thousands.
Cogmind - Sci-fi Roguelike (devblog) | X@COM - The X-COM RL | REXPaint - ASCII art editor

akeley

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Re: Releasing a Commercial ASCII Roguelike, a Post-Mortem [Cogmind]
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2015, 08:41:33 PM »
That`s Long; Do Read!

Well, judging by your blog entries I`d expect no less than a completely in-depth post mortem - delivered in spades. Hopefully it will be a useful resource & encouragement  to other serious RL devs thinking of making it in a commercial world.

I think Rimworld, which I know you`re familiar with, has proven that if your game is strong enough, the word will spread and the sales continue in steady fashion. They had a Kickstaretr, okay, but after that kind of went off the radar (only got Greenlit recently) - and yet managed to shift over 70K copies (if I remember well...there used to be a counter on the site but I can`t see it now). That`s a staggering number for a game with no major shopfront exposure and with that "high" 30$ price. But Rimworld really is in the Dwarf Fortress class, quality wise...hopefully Cogmind can compete on this level too ;)

In fact I just went into "sod the tight budget, too curious" mode and headed for your shop - but got confronted by this big personal data form,  even thought Paypal is an option. Am I doing something wrong there?

Kyzrati

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Re: Releasing a Commercial ASCII Roguelike, a Post-Mortem [Cogmind]
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2015, 02:23:04 AM »
That`s Long; Do Read!
Haha, funny how that can be defined as the exact opposite =p

I think Rimworld, which I know you`re familiar with, has proven that if your game is strong enough, the word will spread and the sales continue in steady fashion. They had a Kickstaretr, okay, but after that kind of went off the radar (only got Greenlit recently) - and yet managed to shift over 70K copies (if I remember well...there used to be a counter on the site but I can`t see it now). That`s a staggering number for a game with no major shopfront exposure and with that "high" 30$ price. But Rimworld really is in the Dwarf Fortress class, quality wise...hopefully Cogmind can compete on this level too ;)
For some reason he took the counter down a little while ago; I was looking for it just a few days ago, too ;). But yeah, it had already reached over 70k, which is insane (even more so considering that some buyers would have bought above the $30 level--sheesh).

Based on the type of game it is RimWorld is much better equipped to reach that level of audience. Cogmind wouldn't be able to achieve numbers like that without both a lower price and the volume of Steam. Nonetheless, I'm happy to have what I've got so far :D

The KS definitely helped RimWorld's exposure, of course, something that Cogmind didn't have, but that's okay for now since it's nice to have only really dedicated players while we're still in alpha.

In fact I just went into "sod the tight budget, too curious" mode and headed for your shop - but got confronted by this big personal data form,  even thought Paypal is an option. Am I doing something wrong there?
No, you can still pay via PayPal, but the payment provider requires address info because they use it to set the exact price since they have to charge VAT now (and will also check the address against your IP as part of the fraud detection system). They're pretty strict about that and it can be annoying, but it does let zero problem buys through.

A large chunk of buyers are using PayPal; I think it's a majority but I haven't analyzed those stats.
Cogmind - Sci-fi Roguelike (devblog) | X@COM - The X-COM RL | REXPaint - ASCII art editor